An effort to require television stations to make records about political ad buys available online was blocked Thursday by Republicans on a House Appropriations Committee panel.
The proposal, which had cleared the Federal Communications Commission in April, would require TV stations affiliated with the four top networks in the 50 largest markets to post political ad sales records online. Stations are already required to make the records available to the public upon request, but most stations keep them in paper files, making it difficult to compile and track the information.
The files include the rates charged for political spots, the dates the spots aired and the class of time purchased.
Broadcasters, who are expected to reap as much as $3 billion from political ad sales this year, had lobbied heavily against the proposal, arguing that it would cost too much money and would force them to reveal information that would make them less competitive.
Stations are required to offer their lowest ad rates to political campaigns, so making the information easier for the public to access would help inform the station’s competitors and their other customers about the prices they’re charging. ("Super" PACs are not entitled to the lowest rates.)